Fat-shaming people into losing weight was proven to have the reverse effect, according to a new study made at the University of Pennsylvania. The study found that fat-shaming can worsen people’s health and increase the risks of having a heart attack or developing diabetes.
According to the researchers, these negative messages made to mock people for being overweight might lead them into eating more and increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
“There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health,” said Professor Rebecca Pearl, of the University of Pennsylvania. “We are finding it has quite the opposite effect. When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress.”
Fat-shaming makes people devalue themselves because of their size
Fat-shaming people is sometimes used to raise their awareness of their obesity and to make them lose those extra pounds. However, these “body shaming” comments have proven to have the opposite results, according to a new research made by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania. They said that fat-shaming make people internalize negative stereotypes about themselves, and it actually drives them to overeat and avoid exercise.
Obese people are often targeted as lazy, incompetent, and unattractive because of their size, and that increases their stress. They believe these comment and they devalue themselves too. Previous studies have already demonstrated that weight stigma affects their mental and physical health. This leads to an increase in the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
As well, they said that those who are body-shamed are more likely to suffer from diabetes, strokes, and heart disease.
“Health care providers, the media, and the general public should be aware blaming and shaming patients with obesity is not an effective tool for promoting weight loss, and it may, in fact, contribute to poor health if patients internalize these prejudicial messages,” said Co -author Professor Tom Wadden.
Patients must not feel they are being judged for their weight
To get to these results, the researchers examined 159 obese adults who were enrolled in a larger clinical trial testing the effects of weight loss medication. Their ages ranged between 21 and 65, and they had a body mass index (BMI) of 33 or higher, which is classified as obese. They had to fill questionnaires that measured depression and “weight bias internalization.” Medical examinations were also made to determine their blood pressure, triglycerides levels and waist circumference, since this data could tell if they are likely to have a heart disease, type 2 diabetes or other problems linked to obesity.
They found that the deeper the internalization of stereotypes was the more chances they had to face heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
The study authors said that obese patients must be treated with respect. Providers play a critical role in decreasing the internalization of these negative comments. They must discuss weight with sensitive making the patient feel they are not being judged by their size. The researchers also said that there must be a deeper and larger study on the matter to explore the possible biological responses and behaviors of those who internalize weight bias.
The study was published in the medical journal Obesity.
Source: Pakistan Observer